Giant Bomb Review27 Comments
Rocket Riot Review4
by Jeff Gerstmann on
Rocket Riot is immensely charming with some light-hearted gameplay behind it that makes for some exciting multiplayer battles.
Rocket Riot looks and sounds like some kind of downloadable remake to a cult Amiga game that never existed. It seems like the remake of the sort of game that your closest British friend constantly pesters you about, chastising you for not being up on how popular the Amiga and the C64 were in the UK. That's not to say that Codeglue's Xbox Live Arcade game really has anything in common with Paradroid or Sensible Soccer. But it's just the general vibe I get from this fun, cool-looking jet-pack-based shooter.
The shorter version of an already short story is that a legless pirate escapes captivity and steals everyone's legs. Scientists come up with a jet pack that screws to your ass, and... you know what? It doesn't matter. The story pops up between segments in the single-player mode and serves as a cute little diversion that doesn't get in the way.
There's a whimsical art style to Rocket Riot that also gives the game a very light-hearted feel. In-game, everything has a blocky, pixelated look, but the camera perspective bends just enough to let you see that these are fully polygonal characters, not flat 2D sprites. As a little dude with a jet pack and a rocket launcher, you can fly around the game's blocky environments at will, popping off missiles in any direction with the right stick. While that technically makes the game a dual-joystick shooter, you have to cock the rockets back a bit by holding the right stick in a direction if you want to get the most movement out of them. Gravity takes hold after that, so you're firing a lot of arcing shots, forcing you to adjust your aim to compensate on longer shots. That concept--aiming your arcing shots to score hits--is the core of Rocket Riot. It feels right, with just enough control over your aim and how hard you launch your rockets to make the whole thing feel like second nature after an hour or two with the game.
Of course, there's a bit more to the gameplay than boosting around and firing rockets. Rocket Riot has a collection of power-ups to collect, like homing missiles, bigger rockets, faster rockets, a shield, one that repels incoming fire, one that makes you smaller and harder to hit, and so on. Furthermore, there are a bunch of different rulesets that come up in the single-player game. Most of the time you just need to kill a number of enemies to proceed. But some have you digging around through the blocks in search of a specific character. Or eliminating marked sets of blocks while fending off enemy attacks. Or another that has you grab a football and drag it over to a set of goalposts to score. The single-player mode also has boss fights that put you up against a bigger, more resilient opponent.
In multiplayer, the game lets you enter into standard deathmatches, or other modes like Golden Guy, where you attempt to grab a gold suit and survive for as long as possible while wearing it. Or Rugby Riot, which uses the same sort of ball rules as the single-player. Of course, playing against human opposition is way more exciting than playing any of the other modes, both because humans tend to be a bit smarter and because having opponents that don't die in one hit makes you have to think a bit more.
The only real downer about Rocket Riot is that it does begin to get repetitive when playing offline. Most of the levels are brainless battles against dopey enemies that rarely shoot straight, and the game types you'll see in each 10-level cycle tend to be identical. Plus, there don't seem to be too many people playing the game online at the moment, especially if you're looking for something other than a standard deathmatch. Of course, the game launched immediately after some Xbox Live technical issues, so it's hard to say how the player base will change over time.
With that in mind, you should know that Rocket Riot will eventually wear thin. But its great looks, clever gameplay, and huge roster of unlockable characters give you plenty to do, and the end result is quite a bit better than the game's $10 price tag might initially lead you to believe. If you're after a faux-retro jet-pack game with multiplayer modes or a more action-oriented Worms game, or anything even remotely resembling those descriptions, you'll probably enjoy most of what Rocket Riot has to offer.